Egypt's Beer: Stella, Identity, and the Modern State by Omar D. Foda
Although alcohol is generally forbidden in Muslim countries, beer has been an important part of Egyptian identity for much of the last century. Egypt’s Stella beer (which only coincidentally shares a name with the Belgian beer Stella Artois) became a particularly meaningful symbol of the changes that occurred in Egypt after British Occupation.
Weaving cultural studies with business history, Egypt’s Beer traces Egyptian history from 1880 to 2003 through the study of social, economic, and technological changes that surrounded the production and consumption of Stella beer in Egypt, providing an unparalleled case study of economic success during an era of seismic transformation. Delving into archival troves—including the papers of his grandfather, who for twenty years was CEO of the company that produced Stella—Omar D. Foda explains how Stella Beer achieved a powerful presence in all popular forms of art and media, including Arabic novels, songs, films, and journalism. As the company’s success was built on a mix of innovation, efficient use of local resources, executive excellence, and shifting cultural dynamics, this is the story of the rise of a distinctly Egyptian “modernity” seen through the lens of a distinctly Egyptian brand.